Keller @ Large: Punish Rowdy Students, Not Landlords

BOSTON (CBS) – It’s that time of year again, the annual return of the college students, and if you live in a building or a neighborhood with student rentals in it, you know what that can mean all too often — ridiculous noise pollution at all hours, with no respect for the neighbors and no hope of mitigation.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

No, not all students who come here think it’s OK to scream their lungs out on the sidewalk at 3 a.m. on a work night, blast their stereo at top volume at all hours, and use the streets and your yard as their personal garbage dump.

But enough do to make this a dreaded time of year for many of us.

Over in Somerville, which has a ton of student apartments, a local alderman is trying to crack down on this type of disruptive behavior.

By imposing new fines on the troublemakers, or adding beef to the city’s law enforcement?

No, by lowering the boom on absentee landlords who rent the space to the perps.

“The proposed ordinance is a common-sense approach,” says the alderman in a statement published by the Globe.

“It is incumbent on the City of Somerville to create useful mechanisms that encourage landlords to aggressively address tenant issues.”

Excuse me?

I have no sympathy for negligent landlords who let their properties become rundown havens for illegal behavior of any kind.

But what exactly is a responsible landlord supposed to do to avoid the new liability they want to impose?

Any rowdy tenant who knows the eviction laws will laugh in the face of a landlord who tries to use that as a threat to stop a problem.

It’s easier, quicker and cheaper to build an ark and sail out of town than it is to evict a tenant in Massachusetts.

I appreciate the concern here, but may I make a suggestion?

Go to the source of the issue, the entitled cretins who don’t know how to behave.

Empower the cops to heavily fine them or throw them in the lockup to the point where even they will get the message.

Now that seems more like common sense to me than blaming someone who isn’t even there when the howling starts.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

  • emom

    I don’t live anywhere near Boston or the big campus,, HOWEVER… I have seen so many stories over the years where the constant noise, partying and rude behavior is much to be desired for… So many students do not have any respect for those that have to work or have families with children…. All they want to do is PARTY HARDY and get drunk or just be loud…And it seemed to be in some areas such a problem that its been a power struggle between landlords , students, Non Students and police… WHO TO BLAME,,, students or landlords…. WELL BOTH.. If a landlord can not be vigilant in maintaining their apartments in so many ways…. Then they should be held accountable.. And if students can not BEHAVE themselves well same with them… Throw the book at them… WHATS THAT,,,, they are adults and they are just having a great time,,, SO, do it in a low key way, not so the neighbors can have some sort of peace of mind,,,,, OH BUT WAIT,,, lets see are they 21, FOR MOST OF THEM NO ,, There in The problem…. To many are underage therefore that is a huge issue, and a landlord had their duty to preserve safety for all that abide by the rules, CRACK DOWN ON UNDERAGE DRUNKENESS……. If a landlord DOES nothing about complaints then he/she should be held accountable,,, If they are called and nothing is done then fine the hell out of them. FINE THEM ALL if they do not comply.. I rather them all be safe then someone getting seriously hurt. I don’t think a parent wants to hear their child has suffered and or died due to foolishness…. There seems to be a serious issue with students and booze,,, its never a good mix and the stories get worse every year.. Maybe if they both get heavy fines the message will be clear,,,,

  • Brad Leyshon

    While I think its important for police and local government to have the power to do something in cases where things truly get out of hand, I believe its more due to cultural influences that result in certain types of behavior in student rented apartments. Case in point, the same behavior often continues after graduation and into late twenties and thirties. Coming from a large “party school”, getting a fine or a party broken up by the cops is more of a badge of honor than a deterrent to do it again. If we change the culture and social norms then we may be able to lessen the “rowdy” behavior. In the meantime, do your research when moving and stay away from student areas if that is something important to you and your family.

  • Mark

    Arrest them if they cannot abide by the laws. They have no respect for other people and their property.

  • Louise

    If these kids don’t know how to behave they shouldn’t be in college. They should be removed from the housing unit, expelled from college and returned to their parents. Which makes me wonder – where did they learn this behavior? Maybe they shouldn’t be returned to their parents…

  • emom

    Maybe as parents we should crack down on underage drinking PERIOD,,,, How many HIGH SCHOOL age students are arrested in underage parties , HOW many times in the past year have we heard people say ,, “THEY ARE NOT HURTING ANYONE” really it starts in high school and continues into college… And yes they learn it from somewhere OR someone,,,,, Parents do not realize just how much influences they give their kids, They watch us every second they can,, and see what we do ,.,, AHHHH but when the kids leave home and mom and dad are no longer around to see them,,, they will try anything and throw caution to the winds…. There fore a total, LACK OF RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANYONE BUT BELIEVE THE SKY’S THE LIMIT AND WHO IS IT HURTING…. How foolish the youth of today have become.

    • FireGuyFrank

      We are a society that gives trophies to all the kids — not just the winners — because we don’t want those who didn’t win to feel like failures. Sorry. That’s why baseball has been such a great life lesson. Ted Williams was the last guy to hit .400 — meaning he FAILED 60% of the time!

      We are a society of enablers, and this behavior is just a sign of the times.

      • emom

        Foreguyfrank,,,, I totaly hear you and unfortunalty its only getting worse with parents giving kids the BY way out,, giving them what they THINK they need and looking the other way…If I had ever acted like kids today, I would have gotten so punished and grounded for life….. thank god I grew up with morals.

  • FireGuyFrank

    What this comes down to — very simply — is PERSONAL responsibility. Jon is right that it is next to impossible to evict tenants who have no regard for the landlord’s property. It’s the landlord’s investment.

    Still, the landlord need not rent to college students. Then again, the landlord cannot deny any qualified renter, right?

    The disorderly students have to be held accountable. They are causing the disruption to the neighbors. Police can make arrests with current laws on the books. I know doing the paperwork for drunk and disorderly is as fulfilling as nabbing a DUI before harm occurs, but…

    I am surprised the alderman doesn’t want a law to hold the schools responsible.

  • JusticeAlert

    Kids will be kids, and what’s being discussed here is “college”, right or wrong. Keller is on the mark with giving them consequences to quell their behavior, and severe enough to deter doing it again. That not only will work, but in the instances it doesn’t, let repeat offenders get it worse and worse until it does. Going after landlords is just bizarre, but such is the fate in Massachusetts even for the most decent of landlords.

    Mr. Keller, would you please expose THIS latest outrage:

    The AG does nothing about public corruption but goes after this guy???

  • I'm back...

    Here’s a tip for the parents: change the locks.

  • Ron

    We need to Punish the lawbreakers but that has to start by parents teaching their children to be more responsible for their actions and not condoning or allowing bad behavior.

    We also have to change the laws to make it easier for landlords to evict lawbreakers and troublemakers

    • BostonIrish

      Ron, by the time these “kids” are in college they should have some grip on acceptable behavior. I can tell you that while in college there were plenty of students from good homes that thought college was a party, period. Didn’t come from their homes, that’s for sure.

      To landlords who rent to students, you’re as successful as the clients you select to occupy your property. Deal with it.

  • emom

    Wait we are to WHAT,,, tell teens to be “RESPONSIBLE”……… Your kidding right… How about all the stories we have read here over the last 4 – 6 months of teens UNDERAGED teens going to parties and getting drunk…. How many parents and FOLKS right here on the comments have stated its “ EPIC”, they are merely “BEING KIDS”, “DOING WHAT KIDS DO” and yet some have made the statement of them being held accountable and their family being held responsibly for them and their way ward behaviors… NOW FOLKS WANT THEM TO STAND UP AND TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. REALLLLLYYYYYY.. Like that’s ever going to happen… it should have happened long ago, while they where still living at home, MOM & DAD should have installed manners , good behavior, and proper judgment, At the time these TEENS go to college and if they DO NOT use good judgment,, I believe it’s a bit to late…Don’t give me that a parent can not control their kids,, if that’s the cause YOU FAILED them miserably…. Not caring enough to be sure they can get thru the EPIC times of STUPIDITY, with out getting into trouble and or getting killed… Yeah I said it… how many stories of drunk teens even college students ended up dead because of bad behavior that could have been prevented if they where stopped when it happened while at home. JUST SAYING… For all the TEENS trying out what ever there is to try , many more that DO NOT behave poorly and DO use good judgment… Yeah hold them accountable excuse me while I laugh ,,, Hashanah… that’s sarcasm, they will laugh in our face and tell us we are infringing into their RIGHTS.. Sound familiar… it should so many have said we where doing just that with the teens during the school parties that were blind stinking drunk…ITS MY RIGHTS,, YOUR INVADING MY FREEDOM … Yeah freedom to be totally stupid .. Good luck world…

  • JohnC

    “Absintee landlord” seems to have a negative connotation. Purchaseing real estate, then renting the use of it is a legitimate and common business practice. It is a business that makes business possible. There are so many tenant protection laws that basically, a landlord cannot refuse to lease an apartment to anyone who is old enough to sign a contract. Is the landlord supposed to stay on site and be a cop? Will Somerville grant the landlord the power of arrest and/or immediate eviction. It is the Somerville alderman who lacks common sense.

  • OcHa Zelly

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